Resources to protect your community from ICE Raids

    Jan 20, 2018

    Multiple sources have reported over the past few days that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be conducting raids in Northern California. The agency reportedly will target individuals with prior deportation orders and criminal histories. It expects to arrest more than 1500 undocumented immigrants.

    We stand in solidarity with immigrant communities affected by the issue. In light of these recent news, we are sharing the following resources:

    What to do if ICE knocks at your door:

    Reporting ICE activity

    Please ONLY use these numbers to report ICE activity and Enforcement Actions.

    Alameda County Immigration Legal and

    Education Partnership (ACILEP)

    Region covered: Alameda County

    510-241-4011

    http://centrolegal.org/acilep/

     

    San Francisco Rapid Response Network

    Region covered: San Francisco City

    415-200-1548

    http://sfilen.org/

     

    Santa Clara County Rapid Response

    Network

    Region Covered: Santa Clara County

    408-290-1144

    https://www.pactsj.org/santa-clara-county-

    rapid-response-network/

     

    Monterey County Rapid Response Network

    Region covered: Monterey County

    831-643-5225

    https://montereycountyrrn.com/

     

    Santa Cruz County Rapid Response

    (YARR)

    Region covered: San Cruz County

    831-239-4289

    https://www.facebook.com/YARRsantacruz/

     

    Marin Rapid Response Network

    Region covered: Marin County

    North Bay Rapid Response Network

    Region covered: Sonoma & Napa Counties

    415-991-4545

    http://www.marinrrn.org/

    707- 800-4544

    http://northbayop.org/rapidresponse/

     

    San Mateo Rapid Response Network

    Region covered: San Mateo County

    203-666-4472

     

    Fresno Rapid Response

    Region covered: Fresno County San Joaquin,

    Merced, and Kern Counties

    559-206-0151

     

    Sacramento Rapid Response

    Region covered: Sacramento County

    916-245-6773

     

    Services, Immigration Rights and

    Education Network (SIREN) Rapid

    Response Text Platform

    Region covered: Northern & Central CA

    Community Members: 201-468-6088

    Allies: 918-609-4480

    www.siren-bayarea.org/

     

    Additional Resources:

    Below, find some materials that may be useful to employers in preparing for and responding to worksite raids.

    https://legalaidatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Compressed-FINAL-Employer-Guide-ICE-Worksite-Enforcement-SPANISH-00514605-min.pdf (Spanish)

    https://legalaidatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Chinese-Employer-Workplace-Raids-00506142.compressed.pdf (Chinese)

    https://legalaidatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/compressed_workplace-raids-employer-FINAL-00502084-1.pdf (English)

     

    Links to fact sheets about ICE raids (all also available in downloadable PDF form):

    https://legalaidatwork.org/es/factsheet/workplace-raids-workers-rights/ (Spanish)

    https://legalaidatwork.org/zh/factsheet/workplace-raids-workers-rights/ (Chinese)

    https://legalaidatwork.org/factsheet/workplace-raids-workers-rights/ (English)

     

     

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    September 2018 Immigration Legal Services Fellowship!

    Oct 13, 2017

    We are recruiting an immigration legal services fellow to begin in September of 2018.  The fellowship is a unique hybrid private-public design in which the fellow (once licensed) will carry a caseload that is 60% pro bono (thanks to a generous private grant) and 40% private/paid clientele. The spirit of the fellowship is to train the fellow to become an effective, compassionate and fierce immigration attorney. While prior relevant experience is valued, most importantly the ideal candidate will be passionate about standing up for immigrants’ rights – including for people with stigmatizing criminal records and mental health issues – share our holistic and extra-mile approach to representation, and be detail-oriented, organized and motivated. The position involves providing direct immigration legal services including in courtroom and detention settings.

    Given the start date of September of 2018, the fellowship is ideal for a current third year law school student graduating and taking the bar in 2018, but is also open to other entry-level attorneys. The duration of the fellowship is one-year with the possibility of extension.

    More about the practice/position: Our office provides direct immigration legal services for people before immigration courts and agencies. The fellow will represent individuals in defensive and affirmative applications for relief. See this link for our practice areas. The practice is lean, fast-paced and high volume.

    Qualifications:

    • Law school graduate awaiting bar results by September 2018 (continued employment dependent on passing the bar) or licensed attorney
    • Spanish-fluency required
    • See ideal candidate description above

    Compensation:

    • $55,000/year
    • Benefits are being determined, but include generous vacation, sick, and holiday package.

    To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, three references and a legal writing sample to Helen Lawrence at Helenlawrence.esq@gmail.com. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

    Please note that this is separate fellowship listing from the bridge fellowship.

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    Immigration Bridge Fellowship!

    Sep 14, 2017

    We are excited to announce an immigration bridge fellowship for a recent law graduate awaiting bar results or an entry-level attorney. The new graduate or lawyer will carry a caseload that is 60% pro bono (thanks to a generous private grant) and 40% private/paid clientele. The spirit of the fellowship is to train the fellow to become an effective, compassionate and fierce immigration advocate. While prior relevant experience is valued, most importantly the ideal candidate will be passionate about standing up for immigrants’ rights – including for people with stigmatizing criminal records and mental health issues – share our holistic and extra-mile approach to representation, and be detail-oriented, organized and motivated. The position involves providing direct immigration legal services including in courtroom and detention settings.

     

    The position will begin as soon as filled and end August 31, 2018 with the possibility of an extension for one year or more.

     

    More about the practice/position: Our office provides direct immigration legal services for people before immigration courts and agencies. The fellow will represent individuals in defensive and affirmative applications for relief. See this link for our practice areas. The practice is lean, fast-paced and high volume.

     

    Qualifications:

    • Licensed attorney or recent law school graduate (continued employment dependent on passing the bar)
    • Spanish-fluency required
    • See ideal candidate description above

     

    Compensation:

    • $55,000/year prorated based on start date;
    • Bar dues, AILA National/Norcal membership, and NIP/NLG membership paid;
    • Benefits are being determined, but include paid vacation and sick leave.

     

    To apply, please send a cover letter, resume and three references to Helen Lawrence at Helenlawrence.esq@gmail.com.

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    DACA’s Rescission and Free DACA Renewals (for DACA expiring between Sept. 5, 2017 and Mar. 5, 2018)

    Sep 05, 2017

    Earlier today, the Trump administration announced an end to the DACA program. This decision was unfair and wrong. We stand in solidarity with all people affected by the issue. In this message, we share important information for DACA recipients and provide an update regarding steps that this office is taking in response to the announcement.

    Below are important pointers for all DACA recipients to keep in mind:

    • DACA and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) will be valid until they expire. You can find the expiration date of your EAD at the bottom of your work permit and the DACA expiration date on your I-795, DACA approval notice. These two dates are usually the same.
    • USCIS will no longer accept or process initial DACA applications filed after September 5, 2017.
    • If you have an EAD/DACA that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, you need to apply for a two-year-DACA renewal by October 5, 2017. If the renewal is granted, it will be valid for 2 years.
    • USCIS will no longer approve advance parole requests associated with DACA.

    In response to the announcement, we have decided to provide free legal services to eligible individuals filing DACA renewal applications. If you are a current DACA recipient, you may be eligible for these services if your DACA application expires before March 5, 2018 and your renewal application needs to be received by USCIS by October 5, 2017.

    If you are eligible for these services, the office is willing to provide legal representation in your DACA renewal as long as you are able to meet with us in person at the Law Office of Helen Lawrence, based in Oakland, California. If you are unable to come to the office in person, we can provide assistance to you with filing a pro se DACA renewal.

    If you are interested and eligible for these services but cannot afford the cost of the government fees, we can assist you with fundraising efforts.

    Please fill out this form if you are interested in our services. If you don’t have access to a computer, call or text (510)922-0261 and leave a message. We will contact you in the near future to conduct a screening and schedule you for an in-person appointment.

    Any information shared in the form will remain confidential.

     

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    Our Response to Trump

    Jan 20, 2017

    After thoughtful reflection, our practice will respond to Trump’s presidency in the following manner:

    1. Continue our regular practice of standing up boldly for immigrants’ rights (working harder and more);
    2. Spend the last week of Obama presidency (Gabi) and the first week of Trump presidency (Bonita and Helen) in detention centers in Texas providing pro bono representation to detained women and children seeking asylum (with the idea that it must be a pretty scary time to be in immigration detention) – We will do these trips periodically as we are able to sustain;
    3. No longer charge for naturalization cases, moving forward they will be on a donation basis (unless there are complexities);
    4. Offer free remote naturalization consultations and assistance via Skype/FaceTime to individuals across the country, with a focus on swing states – We will attempt to create a coordinated remote naturalization effort (immigration attorneys interested in joining this effort please email helenlawrence.esq@gmail.com);
    5. Continue to adapt our response in light of what is to come.
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    How Can an Asylum Seeker With No Criminal Record Find Herself in County Jail? Are Immigrants Protected by the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and if so, are they Receiving Due Process?

    Aug 24, 2016

    By Bonita S. Gutierrez

    When I began to practice immigration law, I was initially shocked to discover that a pro bono client whom I had agreed to represent was an asylum seeker who was being held in Contra Costa County jail despite having no criminal record. I wondered how the government could justify imprisoning a person without bringing any criminal charges against her.

    Although my client was held in county jail with the general prison population, legal precedent says that she was being held under civil confinement, not criminal confinement. The Supreme Court has held that immigration proceedings, including immigration detention, occur in the civil context and not the criminal context. See Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 679 (2001) (“Freedom from imprisonment lies at the heart of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause. Government detention violates the Clause unless it is ordered in a criminal proceeding with adequate procedural safeguards or a special justification outweighs the individual’s liberty interest. The instant [immigration detention] proceedings are civil and assumed to be nonpunitive[.]”). That is, according to law, her imprisonment was not for punitive reasons. The government used a similar rationale to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II. My client, who had no criminal record and yet found herself in jail, had understandable difficulty comprehending that she was not being punished.

    Why Are Many Immigrants without Criminal Records Being Held In Jails or Jail-like Detention Centers?

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) justifies civil immigrant detention as necessary while DHS processes immigrants – either for deportation or for release on bond or with an ankle monitor while they litigate their immigration case, including any claim for asylum. Whether immigrants are held in remote immigrant detention facilities or local county jails is often a question of space and resources.

    One factor contributing to civil confinement of immigrants without criminal records is the law providing for “expedited removal.” Expedited removal was passed in 1996 as part of a larger package of immigration laws. The law allows immigration officers to deport a person at or near the border when he or she does not have proper documents to enter and without going before an immigration judge to evaluate any claim she or he might have to legal status, including asylum. United States treaty obligations codified into statue prohibit the deportation of people to a country where they will be persecuted or tortured- a concept known as non-refoulement. The expedited removal law therefore provides people who express such a fear with a right to an interview with an asylum officer. The interview is meant to protect people with a so-called “credible fear” of return from being deported back into the dangers of whatever persecution she was fleeing. A finding of credible fear means that the asylum seeker has shown a “significant possibility that she will ultimately be granted asylum here.” See R.I.L-R v. Johnson, 80 F.Supp. 3d 164, 170 (Dist. Ct. D.C. 2015), citing 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a).

    In practice, however, not all asylum seekers who express a fear of return are provided this interview. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed border agent scripts, drafted in Spanish, falsely telling people who fear returning that they can only claim legal status through family members and pressuring them to sign their own deportation order without going before a judge.

    When border patrol properly allows a person to describe her fear of return to her home country to an asylum officer, the asylum seeker is often detained for weeks or months until DHS can arrange the credible fear interview at the detention center. If the asylum officer incorrectly finds an absence of credible fear, the asylum seeker may seek review with a judge, usually while remaining detained for even longer. Even when the asylum officer finds that the person has a credible fear of returning, the person typically remains detained until she pays a bond or accepts an ankle monitor. ICE usually offers bonds from $1,500 to $10,000 for women and children, although there is no upper limit, and bond demands can be much higher for men – even those without criminal records. Those asylum seekers unable to pay bond must continue to wait for release with an ankle monitor. Ankle monitors cannot be removed except by DHS contractors. Each day, wearers must station themselves near a wall for over an hour while the device is charged with a chord, lest the device will sound incessantly. Many who wear them complain that the devices decrease circulation to limbs and get uncomfortably warm. The devices are bulky and hard to hide except under loose pants and some wearers report feeling stigmatized by appearing to have committed a crime.

    Does Confining Immigrants Without Criminal Records Comply with the Constitution?

    In the first place, does the Due Process Clause of the Constitution protect immigrants? The Constitution provides due process of law not only to United States citizens but to all “persons” present in the United States – regardless of their immigration status. The Supreme Court has upheld this interpretation. See Zadvydas, 533 U.S. 678 at 693 (“But once an [immigrant] enters the country, the legal circumstance changes, for the Due Process Clause applies to all ‘persons’ within the United States, including [immigrants], whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, or permanent.”). At core, the due process clause provides that the government cannot take away a person’s life, liberty, or property without first affording him or her due process of law. Certainly, putting my client in jail deprives her of liberty; and as a person present in the United States, the due process clause applies to her.

    What, then, does Due Process mean for immigrants held in detention?
    The Supreme Court has upheld limited mandatory detention of immigrants convicted of certain aggravated criminal offenses and found deportable. The Court reasoned that DHS needs sufficient time to work out the logistics of deporting a person to another country. See id. at 690, 701 (“A statute permitting indefinite detention of an [immigrant] would raise a serious constitutional problem.” Noting that “Congress previously doubted the constitutionality of detention for more than six months.”) See also Demore v. Kim, 538 U.S. 510, 526 (2003).

    What about immigrants being detained with no criminal record? DHS relies on federal statute to continue to detain immigrants who have passed their credible fear interviews. Under law, each asylum seeker who passes her credible fear interview may, in DHS’s discretion, be released. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) officer is tasked with making custody determinations and may release an asylum seeker, on bond or with an ankle monitor, where the asylum seeker can show that her release would not pose a danger to the community and she is likely to appear in court for all future proceedings. See R.I.L-R v. Johnson, 80 F.Supp. 3d at 171, citing 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a).

    Can People Fleeing for Their Lives be Deterred?

    Until 2015, DHS often used its discretion to continue to hold asylum seekers in detention on the stated theory that doing so would discourage others from trying to flee extreme violence by coming to the United States. Moral objections aside, government attempts to deter others from fleeing persecution by detaining asylum seekers in the United States are legally dubious and empirically ineffective. See id. at 189 (“In discussing civil commitment more broadly, the [Supreme] Court has declared such ‘general deterrence’ justifications impermissible…. In addition, a general-deterrence rationale seems less applicable where … neither those being detained nor those being deterred are certain wrongdoers, but rather individuals who may have legitimate claims to asylum in this country.”) (citing Kansas v. Crane, 534 U.S. 407, 412 (2002). Tellingly, after a federal judge in the District of Columbia certified a class action against DHS for using this theory as a guiding principle in deciding whether to release asylum seekers, DHS announced it would no longer do so. See Flores v. Lynch, No. 15-56434, 2016 WL 3670046, at *11 (9th Cir. Jul. 6, 2016). Nevertheless, federal law continues to allow DHS and ICE wide discretion in deciding whether and when to release asylum seekers.

    As a result, many women and children seeking refuge from extreme violence in their home countries are held in so-called family detention centers across the country. United States asylum law mandates that the government must protect people fleeing persecution in their home countries, but holding a traumatized population in jails or detention centers featuring jail-like conditions seems contrary to that mission. See Anker, Deborah E., Law of Asylum in the United States, 2015 ed., § 1:2 at 10 (“in 1980 the United States enacted specific statutory measures to conform provisions of its domestic law to the [United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees].”). The fact that both jails and immigration detention facilities are run by the same management companies, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Corporation, belies the argument that detention centers do not feature jail-like conditions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that screens refugees before they are sent to detention centers, has been accused of abusive behavior including withholding food and keeping barely clothed people in freezing cold rooms without blankets for hours or days on end without ever turning off the lights.

    On August 10, 2016, 22 mothers held in family detention in Pennsylvania went on a hunger strike because of the length of time they have been detained. Over a third of these mothers have been detained for more than 300 days.

    The Upshot

    As I have written before, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have effectively buckled under pressure from highly sophisticated and well-financed transnational crime syndicates, sending thousands of men, women, and children fleeing from extreme violence in their home countries. Perhaps not coincidentally, the number of expedited removals has skyrocketed at the same time.

    Hasty deportations are often prioritized over due process rights. The irony is that many asylum seekers without criminal records find themselves confined the longest when they muster the courage to tell armed border patrol officers that they are afraid of returning home.

    In recent years, deportation and border patrol operations have enjoyed increased budgets but asylum officers charged with evaluating peoples’ fears of returning home have not, nor have the immigration courts charged with evaluating asylum claims. Given the misery this situation often causes for asylum seekers, young and old, one has to wonder if most Americans would agree with the morality, let alone the constitutionality, of detaining them.

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